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Three Poems

ESCAPE AT RED ROCKS

 

I am the colour of the outside,
a stillness moving like a winter tide,
a new shoreline in formation,
a marshland waterlogged – soggy
ground needs time to dry it out –

 

but time as sea wind not calendar, the time
found inside spaces stretching out and over
like skin on a drum is a resonance,
a wave that submerges the entire rock,
not chiseling or scratching at one area only,
not just a mind to impress upon

 

but a flattened and silken self
all bound into the support of the water,
head rising up then down to find my breath.

 

 

DIVINATION AT HIGH WATER

 

Small birds dip on the tide,
one instant silver, next dark as shadow
and, seep-into-it, disappear again
in the glint of sun on the wave;
and turning under into the crust of water,
taking on edges and then reversing, then – flicker –

 

there is no need to carry
a narrative high on my shoulders
as the light makes me another story,
touching distance huge as the earth’s arc,

 

no collapse of form or dissolution, but an alteration,
a submission to the sky and then, for a moment,
enlarged as wide as a firmament,
my body, a long afternoon of rain, becomes thunder.

 

 

PORTENT IN THE HIGH WOODS

 

The men sit before the hearth,
spit words into flames.
Some thing is coming over the mountains,
along forest tracks and past the stream.

 

They know this as he saw it in a dream,
heard horses’ hooves stick in sandy mud,
saw in his sleep a shadow in the high wood,
long-lined like a tree but swerving
down the path like a torrent.

 

He says this out loud. Men lean inwards,
look east across lead-lined windows,
terraced gardens, sodden topiary
to feathery fog, the flood.

 

And in woods, at a fire-pit
in the grove, twigs are laid on the centre-stone,
a mist swirls then scatters
as oaks creak and crack, cloudy droplets
skulk like rainclouds over the earth.

 

At their hearth, the men cackle,
scramble for spears and swords.
Across mountains, in the estuary,
the thick tide is far and out.
Lithe winds ride in over the valley.
One man licks his lips to taste the salt.

 

*

 

In the grove, weary bodies rest

on the sound of the mist, which crunches 

now like the rock that it is or was

before it came to be lost here at the tip of the sky. 

And the stone underneath their bones,

rustles, glitters, sand shifts apart granite, 

then particles smack on particles, eroding 

pleasurably into strata. Muscles 

ache as they dream, bone on sinew, 

clench and pull, scratch at nerve endings,

stretch out ligaments; worn down, they sleep.

 

*

 

The men creep beneath the trees, 

torches held high under drips 

from the moss. At the end 

of the path, a pant like a dog,

a sea-wind, then fog hung

 

in the old oak grove as, 

like foxes from a hole, they

reach the fire-pit, poke it till it burns 

bold and mist-borne breath

shines bright like constellations

 

and there are no bodies sleeping, 

only piles of sticks and stones

lain in the shape of a human

lost in the twine of time and rot.

 

*

 

When morning comes, the men sit at the embers of the fire. 

 

In the ash, a drawing of a body of a man.

 

In their eyes, silence –

like they never began

to chase away the salted air

blown over the valley from the lips of the sea.

 

A curlew cry on a newly-wetted beach;

a spoken song, words born of mist, not ink.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

is the author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent is The Well at Winter Solstice (Salt, 2019) and her fifth collection Tam Lin of the Winter Park, in which these poems will appear, is forthcoming from Guillemot Press in May, 2022. Eleanor is senior lecturer in creative writing at Liverpool Hope University and lives in Liverpool.

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